Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Job Hunting Tips

All of my kids are employed this summer, but it's a different job market then it was when I was their age.

Read this from Harvey Mackay:

Summer job hunting: No day at the beach

The New York Times recently spotlighted a side effect of the current economic malaise—the meltdown of the summer job market.

"The job market of 2008 is shaping up as the weakest in more than half a century for teenagers looking for summer work," said the Times article. "Little more than one-third of the 16- to 19-year-olds in the United States are likely to be employed this summer, the smallest share since the government began tracking teenage work in 1948."

Before offering my tips on how to land a coveted spot on the payroll, let me mention how I lost a plum of a job one summer at Howard's Men's Store in St. Paul. Pay? Fine. But my ambition was honing my golfing skill so I could become a state high school champion. I got fired when I started asking for way too much time off to play in tournaments.

Collecting my walking papers from Howard's proved an unforgettable lesson in the summer school of life: Getting the job is not the done deal. Keeping the job every day is doing the deal. Here's how:

  • Flex and accommodate. Young people usually get summer jobs to fill in for staffers who want to take time off. Willingly start early, stay late and schlep—doing all the unpleasant pesky chores regulars shun.
  • Network to beat the band. June is late season for summer job hunting. Be enterprising in tapping personal networks—yours, your family's, your friends' and any other quality contacts that can be begged or borrowed.
  • Pitch the long ball. Companies love to polish gems in the rough. Always give first consideration to organizations which match your long-term career interests, and then develop an air-tight case as to why a particular summer job will help polish your long-term skills.
  • Check back on turndowns. Perhaps a rival for a dream job beat you out. Do a discreet phone check and see if all's well. You never know: Mr. Right could be finagling one too many days off to spiff up his swing on the links.
  • Remember alma mater matters. If you're a college student, study the roster of companies who donate heavily to your school. A well-chosen contact can translate to a softhearted alum willing to toss a lifeline to a student in need.
  • Do a year's work in a season. A friend of mine spent his college summers as an announcer at a classical music radio station. He was invited back for three encores because he had a special knack for programming and used the summer to structure the station's broadcasts for most of the year.
  • Set up shop. Americans spend a lot of money each year on home organization. Many a well-heeled homeowner will plunk down good money so an organizing guru can wring order out of chaos. For out-of-control houses and garages, an enterprising student with a strong back and a knack for neatness can be the low-cost option.
  • Scan the big picture. If you're just tracking classifieds in the local gazette, it's time to shake your head out of the sand. The Internet offers access to thousands of pages of help-wanted ads throughout the United States and even the world.
  • Stalk old grizzlies. Professionals in their sixties and seventies, often contemplating retirement, hanker to mentor. Example: Tracking down a job in the law or accounting office of a silver-haired ace can be worth two years tuition at a prestige university. Judge any job's pay scale by what you learn as much as what you earn.

If all else fails, volunteer. Nix those beach rays, soap operas or MTV marathons. Volunteer at a community organization that could use your energy and ingenuity—maybe it's the charity favored by the firm where you would most like to work next summer. Too calculating? If it's June, and if you don't yet have a summer job, maybe calculating is something you should consider adding to your skill set.

Mackay's Moral: Does summertime mean the living is easy? Not if you check today's job thermometer.


  1. 1. Be Brave. Even in this economy, there are plenty of employers out there looking for the affordable, enthusiastic, and energetic help that teenagers provide, but you have to go out and ask for it. Don't be afraid to apply for jobs.

    2. Be Polite. You are applying for a job; dress up, make eye contact, shake hands, and avoid using slang. First impressions matter - make sure you are remembered for your application and not your attitude.

    3. Be Prepared. Bring a resume and a cover letter whenever you apply for a job. Having a good resume is essential. It shows that you are serious about the position, and that you are mature and responsible. If you need help writing a resume, provides a dynamic free resume for teens
    that is very helpful.

    4. Be Persistent. It would be nice if you were immediately offered every job that you ever applied for, unfortunately this is not the case for anybody. Persistence pays off; send a thank you note to interviewers, follow-up if you do not hear about the job after a week, and keep applying.

    5. Be Creative. Look for work in places other than the mall. The weakening economy means that people are going to be looking to cut costs in areas such as lawn and child care. Get a few friends together and start a landscaping or a babysitting business. Working for yourself is a great way to earn money and develop skills that will help you find your next job.

  2. Oops! I cut my introduction - those tips are from the teenage job experts at - and I think they can also be a big help

  3. Unemployment stats are up but there are still so many high paying jobs posted on employment sites ie

    There still seems to be a strong demand for employees